I read an obit from a neighboring town for a lady who lived to be 93. She lived and worked all her life in the town in which she was born. From all appearances she looked as if she'd not really accomplished much. She worked her entire adult life as a waitress in various venues; the article didn't mention any higher education.
The posted picture showed a kind and gentle face smiling at the camera, gently frosted with wrinkles.
The article said she was loved by many and would be missed by everyone in the town; they all knew her by name and remembered her fondly.
You think about a remarkable life. You ponder about what makes fame or how to measure success...
I wonder if she considered herself successful.
She'll be missed by thousands who knew her by name... thousands! Yet, she didn't build any cathedrals, or fly a plane across the Atlantic. She didn't write a best-seller, or sing like an angel on stage. You'll not find her on the silver screen or standing behind a politician's podium. She wasn't a prestigious CEO. She didn't make a six-figure income or live in a mansion.
But, I'll bet you my last dime she kept your coffee cup topped off and hot, and knew exactly what you wanted for breakfast by the look on your face or the temperature outside. She could serve you up a smile on the gloomiest of days and never utter a harsh word to even the most cantankerous customer. And, I imagine, she never felt as if she was a less than... or treated anyone else like one, either.
You could measure success by the number of bodies you trample to get to the top. You might consider yourself successful by rubbing elbows with the creamiest of the crop, and turning your nose up at your employees, or the hotel maids, or the rest of the ribble-rabble you consider less thans. You can put all the pretty little initials you want behind your name... but, I can guarantee the people attending her funeral will be there because they loved and respected her in life. The people at your funeral will be there because they're expected to be.
So, how do you measure success? Is it in the kind memories and warm thoughts you leave behind in others; others whose hearts fill with love at the thought of you? Or, is it measured by the title you procure in your career; the highest rung you achieve on the corporate ladder; the number of lowly less than employees you can bully and ignore on your trek to greatness?
I have no answer. The careerly (it's a word now) successful have buildings named after them. Sometimes they secure that honor in life by having a building remodeled while they hold the highest office, giving them the credit and accolades, complete with their pretty, little names on a big, shiny plaques for all to admire. Other times they donate obscene amounts of money to have something built in their honor - in essence, their names live on for centuries (barring the zombie apocalypse).
Yertle the Turtle, the king of the pond...
I have no illusions about my own impact on this world. If I have a funeral, it won't be attended by many. (There should be coffee, though... It wouldn't be right to not have coffee... and maybe some good coffee crumb cake. Hot and cinnamon-y. That would be nice.)
I'm envious of this woman who, in the typically successful person's eyes, didn't amount to much during her 93 years on this planet.
She's contributed more to this world than the best of the elite, and, although I never met her, she's earned my respect - for what that's worth. It's more than I can say for any executive.
She should at least have a tasty sandwich named after her, that's all I'm saying.
Sandwiches are more functional than plaques.
In Joy & Enjoy